Johnnie Carrier: Dentist visits certainly never a gas


NORTH ADAMS - Now dentally challenged with an unreasonable fear of the dentist, I remember the whole process back when I was 10 or 11 years old. My Dad ran the neighborhood ice cream and candy store, meaning I always had cavities and fistfuls of great baseball cards. The ironic part to all of that was our family dentist was a sadist, and I don't mean that in a good way. When asked, Dad said we went to that guy because they were childhood friends. So Dad's choice of a family dentist was based on the fact that he once burned ants using a magnifying glass with this guy. And I bet he didn't use Novocain then either.

His name was Doc Furman, a stout man with a white receding hair line. If life were an episode of "Hogan's Heroes," he would have played a visiting German general who needed to be kidnapped and shipped off to England. I remember the smell of his office. It smelled of Bactine. A gagging antibacterial that General Furman bathed in, to this day if I smell it I say a Hail Mary figuring I'm in the chair next.

Doc Furman was worth a whole bunch of Hail Marys. I never could remember the Act of Contrition, and thank God (?), it would have taken too long. I could get in three Hail Marys and an Our Father to one Act of Contrition. I would walk into this exam room praying as if I was Cagney being brought to the chair in "Angels with Dirty Faces."

You were greeted at the front desk by Mrs. Furman, a pleasant woman always dressed in white and cheap perfume. She was nice to a fault, and she smiled a lot while her husband conducted experiments in the back room. When I think back on it, she must have been suffering from the Stockholm syndrome. At some point, she was captured by Herr Doctor, and slowly grew to accept his practice of dental mayhem.

His routine was always the same: He would walk out of his exam room drying his hands and the smell filled your soul. The pearl and pink vinyl chair, the napkin being slipped around your neck, the sound of the little round porcelain spit sink, all flash before me. He would poke around your gum line and scraped your teeth with that one tong fork saying words like, "Oops, that's not good." And "Oh boy," was another big one. And your heart would sink with every word. He got right to his work quicker than Santa. And work it was after finding seven cavities. Good old Doc would start to drill the three on the lower right side all at once. There was no use of Novocain, no gas. It was just you, Doc Furman, the good Lord and the smell of burning bone.

I must preface all of this by reminding you that this was the last century, when dental work was still in the caveman ages. It was the 60s and while the world was exploding, I was being scared for freaking life by a hack dentist. Oh how I longed for a needle prick of pain killer. Laughing gas was something that you saw on a situational comedy. This guy did dentistry as if he was the best barber in a frontier town.

But today I'm better (not really). And I'm here to remind you that it's National Make a Dental Appointment Month. Oh wait, I read it wrong. It's National Pet Dental Health Month.

Take two.

So I was treated like a dog one time at this dentist office

Johnnie Carrier is a freelance writer who is just silly sometimes.


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